Norteño septet Conjunto Agua Azul is named after a natural spring that resides in its home state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, but the group can be heard much farther from there now with help from
Norteño septet Conjunto Agua Azul is named after a natural spring that resides in its home state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, but the group can be heard much farther from there now with help from its Billboard chart debut single "El Diccionario."
The saxophone-infused ballad hit No. 26 on the Regional Mexican Airplay chart last week and represents both the band's first national U.S. hit and that of its label, Houston's A.C.E. Records.
The song's appeal, says Conjunto Agua Azul lead singer Faustino "Tino" Laureano, is its universal message. The chorus goes, "I want to express with words what I'm feeling/ but language fails me and my voice goes silent/ don't look for me because sometimes I'm off with my dictionary/ I'm studying the best way to reach your heart."
"It's a lyric that anyone, child or adult, can understand [and that] a lot of people identify with," Laureano tells Billboard.com.
"El Diccionario" was written as a tropical bachata by composer Miguel Braho. The song wound up in the hands of A.C.E., a record label started by Eberardo Compean and his father in the back of their Houston record shop several years ago. Compean's father, a native of San Luis Potosi, signed them, promoting them first in Texas.
For its 2006 album "Qué Chulos Ojos" -- the band's twelfth -- Conjunto Agua Azul re-arranged the bachata song, which now recalls the romantic norteño sound of blockbuster regional Mexican act Conjunto Primavera.
Without a team of radio promotion resources on a major label scale, Eberardo Compean shopped the song at first to only a few radio programmers, first in Houston and then other cities. "For us, it was a slow process," says Compean, A.C.E.'s sales and promotions manager. "It takes some time when you have a lot less capital to work with."
The album features songs from artists like Juan Gabriel and Benny Ibarra, but also the group's accordion player Noe Gonzalez. The band's membership also includes vocalist Mario Gonzalez, Sr., Mario Gonzalez, Jr. on bajo sexton (a large-bodied guitar), Jose Reyes on saxophone, Julio Hernandez on bass and Hector Lopez on drums.
Though the group was founded in 1980 (Laureano's father, now deceased, was the original lead singer), the newfound radio success in the U.S. has led some to believe it's Conjuto Agua Azul's first album, says Compean.
But the group has built a solid fan base in the U.S. and hopes to expand it next year with a national tour. "We are a group with hopes of someday conquering big cities and big audiences," says Laureano. "And we're on our way with 'El Diccionario.'"